Predicting Depression and Quality of Life among Long-term Head and Neck Cancer Survivors

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The aim of this study is to identify clinical factors that are predictive of depression and quality of life (QOL) among long-term survivors of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and to develop predictive scores using these factors.

Study Design

Cohort study


Tertiary referral center.

Subjects and Methods

A total of 209 posttreatment (median follow-up, 38.7 months) head and neck cancer patients were prospectively evaluated using the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS), the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30, and the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire Head and Neck 35, and pretreatment patient-related, tumor-related, and treatment-related predictors were identified using chart review. Bivariate (χ2 and t test) and multivariate (linear regression) analyses were used to construct predictive models.


Significant pretreatment predictors of depression were identified on multivariate analysis as smoking at diagnosis, >14 alcoholic drinks per week, T3 or T4 status, and >3 medications (P < .001). Two or more of these factors yielded an 82.3% sensitivity in detecting significant depressive symptoms (defined as a HADS cutoff score of 5). Significant predictors of fatigue, global health/QOL, social contact, speech, pain, swallowing, and xerostomia were also identified.


Pretreatment predictors of long-term depression and QOL have been defined using multivariate models, and an easily applicable predictive score of long-term depression is proposed. Potential eventual clinical applications include prophylactic intervention in at-risk patients.

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